Lonely musk ox ladies gets gentleman caller in Lapland

Isaac from Helsinki is being introduced to mother and daughter Bodil and Oona in the hopes that they breed this year.

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File picture of musk ox Bodil (L) and Oona (R) at Ranua Wildlife Park, February 2017 / Credit: Marko Junttila, Ranua Wildlife Park

Two lonely musk ox at Ranua Wildlife Park have a new gentleman caller this week, with staff hoping love will soon be in the air.

Bodil and her daughter Oona have been on their own in Lapland since Bodil’s mate died almost two years ago from old age.

But now a young buck has come into the picture in the form of Isaac, a seven-year old from Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki.

“First we were getting another male from Järv Zoo in Sweden, but it was easier for him to go to Helsinki, and so we got Isaac the male from Helsinki Zoo” explains head keeper Mari Heikkilä.

This week Isaac was initially put in an adjacent paddock just so the ladies would get the chance to sniff him out. A few days later he was moved into the same field as Bodil and Oona and so far things have been going well.

The wildlife park hopes he will get both of them pregnant during this year, to increase the musk ox population.

Musk ox are slow to reproduce, and not commonly found in zoos. While they are no longer endangered, musk ox are a part of the European Endangered Species Conservation Programme, with zoos working to preserve and enhance the population.

In the wild, musk ox can be found in Canada, Alaska and Russia, with small introduced populations in Norway and Sweden.

“They eat grass and brush in summer, and in winter time they eat dried grass and willow trees and anything they can find” says Mari Heikkilä.

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